Readers comment on The Ph.D. Trap
Davies, author and Master of Massey College, University
"I truly thought that I had written to you
about The Ph.D. Trap, which I received and read with pleasure and
many a nod of assent. A necessary book, but I suspect you are being buffeted
by the academics, who have a vested interest.... Again, thanks, and keep
on lambasting the Ph.D. It has become a vulgar superstition."
Private letter to W. Cude, 15 August, 1990.
"Wilfred Cude is the kind of reformer this
world needs. Humane, literate, reasonable, and utterly implacable, he
has just unmasked the gruesome goings on in the academic morgue that deals
in doctoral degrees. Any student contemplating the pursuit of a doctorate
had better read The Ph.D. Trap as a matter of basic self-preservation.
Everyone else should read it for the cutting insight it gives into the
current state of academe." Cover statement,
The Ph.D. Trap, March, 1987.
author, academic and journalist.
"The Ph.D. Trap is a passionate cry
for reform from a man who, astonishingly, remains committed to scholarship.
It will find much support among thoughtful and humane academics
who are more common than we have any right to expect."
The Globe and Mail [Toronto], "Graduates' reality," 23
Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto.
"According to Wilfred Cude, the PhD trap is
the bind in which a doctoral candidate may be caught on the way to a PhD
more often in the humanities and social sciences than in the natural
sciences. He has the scholarly impulse to analyse the problem and to promote
reform. He is not alone in his concern. Many groups share his concern
about the time it takes to obtain postgraduate degrees." University
Affairs [Ottawa] "Many groups share author's concern," March,
English Professor, Carleton University
"This is a gutsy little book. Wilfred Cude
takes enormous personal and professional risks, and I rather fear that
he will be savaged in the High Academic Style by many scholarly reviewers.
His assault on the Ph.D., while presented with all the academic gestures
of disinterestedness, engages its subject with compelling intensity....
It will be a test of the academic community's tolerance and capacity for
serious self-scrutiny to see whether it responds in the first instance
to the genuine issues that Cude raises." The
Atlantic Provinces Book Review [Halifax] "Death by Degrees,"
book page editor
"This disturbing book is a plea for the urgent
reform of our universities by one who clearly feels they are victimizing
far too many impressionable students and taking advantage of the fee-paying
parents and tax-levied citizens financing them.... The results hurt everyone.
The wastage of young talents is staggering." The
Telegraph-Journal [St. John, N.B.] "An Urgent Plea For University
1 August, 1987.
"Mr. Cude's book should be essential reading
for any graduate student or undergraduate thinking of becoming one. For
politicians and voters, the issue is clear: how long can a claque of professors,
who cannot be fired and whose work cannot be evaluated, drain the public
purse while luring unwitting students to do free research and teach unwanted
courses? The Ph.D. system as it now stands is, as Mr. Cude has shown,
a tacit conspiracy in restraint of entry into the teaching profession."
The Winnipeg Free Press, "Wasted lives, wasted money,"
9 January, 1988.
"One shot can start a revolution. The target
in Wilfred Cude's The Ph.D. Trap is the 'inflexible, cumbersome,
restrictive and deplorably wasteful' North American PhD program.... Reliance
on the PhD for certifying university instructors is a practice that has
reduced the degree to a union card in academe. The PhD Trap sensibly argues
that it's time to broaden the concept of scholarship, opening academic
programs to qualified private and independent scholars who are not university-based."
The Province [Vancouver], "Caught in the academic trap,"
10 April, 1988.
"Wilfred Cude, author and university lecturer,
has recently written a brilliant but disturbing account of the realities
of the North American doctorate system. In The Ph.D. Trap he exposes
the tragic shortcomings of a system which "traps" bright minds
intent upon intellectual progression, soaks up an average of three to
five (but often many more) years of their lives, conforms them to an outdated
system of conservative study and then dismisses a great number with no
degree in hand." COMMUNIQUÉ [Montreal],
"CLOSET SCHOLARS TAKE NOTE!" 7 May, 1988.
its possessors may say to the contrary, the North American
doctor of philosophy degree is not so much about scholarly
attainment as it is about power: sheer, naked, inexorable
economic and social power. Originally intended as the certificate
attesting specialized preparation for research in the major
let me stress at the very beginning, is designed to effect positive
change in a central academic institution now painfully and destructively
faltering. While nearly all the standard literature concerning our
contemporary university structure is unrelievedly laudatory,...